Bad Science is a book by Ben Goldacre, criticizing
mainstream media reporting on health and science issues.
Published by Fourth Estate in September 2008,
the book contains extended and revised versions of many of his
It had been given goods reviews by the British Medical Journal, the Daily Telegraph and
reached the top 10 bestseller list for Amazon Books.
Most reviews have been positive but some others have also been
critical. There is a forum on his website with a section dedicated
to corrections. In 2009 the book was shortlisted for The
BBC Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction is one of the UK’s most prestigious literary prizes..
A brief introduction (by Goldacre) touching on subjects
covered by subsequent chapters. It bemoans the widespread lack
of understanding of evidence-based science.
Chapter 1: Matter
Detoxification methods (the Aqua Detox, ear candles etc.)
that can easily be shown to be bogus by simple experiments.
Discusses the "detox phenomenon." Touches on purification
Ben Goldacre interview
>>>>> Video <<<<<
Chapter 2: Brain Gym
The adsurdity of claims for Brain Gym, a programme of
specific physical exercises that its commercial promoters claim
can create new pathways in the brain. The uncritical adoption of
this programme by the sections of the British school system is
Chapter 3: The Progenium XY
On cosmetics, and the misleading and pseudoscientific claims
by their manufacturers.
Chapter 4: Homeopathy
Homeopathy is used to prompt a discussion of the nature of
scientific evidence, with reference to the placebo effect,
regression to the mean, and the importance of blind testing and
randomisation in the design of fair clinical trials. Having
concluded that homeopathic pills have been shown to work no
better than placebo pills, the author suggests homeopathy may
still have psychological benefits which could be the subject of
Chapter 5: The Placebo Effect
Examples of the amazing power of the mind over pain, anxiety
and depression are presented with studies showing how higher
prices, fancy packaging, theatrical procedures and a confident
attitude in the doctor all contribute to the relief of symptoms.
In patients with no specific diagnosed condition, even a fake
diagnosis and prognosis with no other treatment helps recovery,
but ethical and time constraints usually prevent doctors from
giving this reassurance. Exploiting the placebo effect is
presented as possibly justifiable if used in conjunction with
effective conventional treatments. The author links its use by
alternative medicine practitioners with the diversion of
patients away from effective treatments and the undermining of
public health campaigns on AIDS and malaria.
Chapter 6: The Nonsense du Jour
Chapter 7: Dr Gillian McKeith PhD
Chapter 8: 'Pill Solves Complex
Chapter 9: Professor Patrick
Chapter 10: Is Mainstream Medicine
Chapter 11: How the Media Promote
the Public Misunderstanding of Science
Chapter 12: Why Clever People
Believe Stupid Things
Chapter 13: Bad Stats
Chapter 14: Health Scares
Chapter 15: The Media's MMR Hoax
And Another Thing
Further Reading and
Oddly for a book of this nature, the hardback and first
paperback editions did not include an index. Several indexes
were prepared by bloggers, of which the most useful is the one
prepared by Oliblog.
The latest paperback issue includes a full index.
Previously unpublished chapter: The Doctor Will Sue You Now
Further to the release of this book a resolution of the legal
status of one of the chapters has come about since Goldacre won
a libel case filed against him by Matthias Rath.
The post dated 9th April 2009 states: This is the “missing
chapter” about vitamin pill salesman Matthias Rath. Sadly I was
unable to write about him at the time that book was initially
published, as he was suing my ass in the High Court.
The full chapter has been made universally available under a
Creative Commons license with the title The Doctor Will Sue
Additionally, this full chapter is included in the New
In this chapter the author explains its origin, its reasons
for being excluded and describes his personal reasons and
tribulations in the said legal resolution. Being his personal
point of view it contains an account of his anger at being
gagged due to legal/financial restrictions, his support by the
Guardian (who he writes for) and his now encyclopaedic knowledge
of the subject in question.
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